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Command In Nato After The Cold War: Alliance, National, And Multinational Considerations
It gives me great, and poignant, pleasure to be asked to write the forward to this compendium on Command in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after the Cold War. I say poignant because over the last five years, in both national and NATO appointments, I have been closely involved in the reorganisation of NATO's command structures. That process...
It gives me great, and poignant, pleasure to be asked to write the forward to this compendium on Command in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after the Cold War. I say poignant because over the last five years, in both national and NATO appointments, I have been closely involved in the reorganisation of NATO's command structures. That process is still not complete. Hence the publication of this compendium could not be more timely as a contribution to the debate which continues in NATO capitals. I will begin by endorsing Dr. Thomas Young's conclusions in his introduction. I do not, however, wish to enter the debate on the approaches of various nations to changes to the command structure: NATO is an alliance based on consensus, and we must accept that. It is also the most effective military alliance in history; this is largely due to the existence of its integrated and multi-national command structure. That command structure, the cement of the Alliance as it were, derives from the mutual obligations contained in Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty. This contractual obligation, which does not exist for the other missions which have arisen since 1990, means that the defence of NATO territory must be the basis of any restructuring. If we were to move away from this and thus weaken the command structure, even with the best intentions, then it is my final conviction that we would do serious harm to the Alliance and its future. On the other hand, a modified command structure, still based on the Article V contractual obligation, provides a firm basis, as well as flexibility, versatility, and availability for any non-contractual, namely out-of-area, requirement. Command structures do not exist of their own accord. They come into being, change, and develop, to permit commanders at the appropriate level, from top to bottom, to orchestrate the application of military force at sea, in the air, and on land. There is, however, a limit to which one can impose responsibilities on commanders, who after all are personally responsible for the conduct of operations, and a limit to the amount of specialisation and detail with which they can cope. This is why we have hierarchical command structures with each commander dealing with the appropriate level of competence. It is why at certain levels command should be joint and at others purely functional. How many levels of command are needed will be dictated by the operations factors of time, forces, ix and space. One must be flexible, and on this basis I fundamentally disagree with categorical statements such as those made by Colonel Clemmesen in Chapter 10; for example, "All headquarters with a wartime mission at the operational level must be combined and joint." Equally, I must ask why establishing or keeping "functional" NATO Headquarters at the operational level of command can no longer be justified when such a structure has been adopted for the Implementation Force (IFOR) deployment (as it was in the Gulf War). A further point is that one cannot simply create command structures which work, especially multinational ones, from scratch. NATO therefore needs, in the absence of any specific threat or contingency, to retain the capability to conduct operations which ensure three cascading levels in the spectrum of operational command: 1. Strategic/Operational; 2. Joint Operational; 3. Service-specific Operational. These three levels of command have nothing to do with the existing structure of Major NATO Commander (MNC), Major Subordinate Commander (MSC), and Principal Subordinate Commander (PSC), although these three levels do in fact meet these requirements. It is the principle which counts, not the current number or size of headquarters at each level. All three levels of command may not be needed for every operation, but history tells us that without such capabilities in place and functioning, disaster will beckon.
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